It was not the start of the day two public works employees expected when they showed up at the Warkentin House to start painting porch rail spindles July 24. They did not expect to get into the avian life-saving business, but they did.
They found what they thought was a hawk with a broken wing lying in the sun. A call to 911 brought animal control officer Jennifer Burns to the scene to try and recover the bird. Upon arrival, she found a Mississippi Kite in a plastic trash can. The Mississippi Kite is classified as a "Hawk and Eagle" in the Audobon Society's online field guide.
According to both Audobon and Burns, the kite is fairly common to the area.
"They are not protected at all," Burns said. "They are the gray ones you see above that will dive bomb folks. I get calls for that a lot because they have babies right now. ... Around the cemetery area, we get a lot of calls. They will come right down and peck you in the head."
Burns said city workers likely saved the kite's life, as with warm temperatures she expected the animal could have likely died from dehydration. Burns said the best chance at survival was to admit the kite to a recovery center at the Hutchinson Zoo.
According to Audobon, this kind of kite glides, circles and swoops in pursuit of large flying insects. Despite the name, it is most common on the southern Great Plains. During recent decades, the planting of trees in shelterbelts and towns has made it possible for this bird to nest in many areas where it was formerly scarce; many towns on the southern plains now have their own nesting colonies of Mississippi Kites.